HEALTH & CARE

How Hot is Too Hot for Cats: Ways to Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer

too hot for a cat
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Summer is just lurking around the corner. Although it’s a great season for cat parents looking forward to having some summer fun, the summer heat could be distressing, if not dangerous for your feline pet. With the approaching summer predicted to be hotter than last year, wouldn’t you want to know how hot is too hot for cats?

Overheating is a serious problem for pets, especially for frail cats and those with extra thick fur. Cats can suffer from heat stroke, too. Knowing what temperatures your cat can tolerate will help you avoid any unnecessary worries. And it will also help you get an idea of what you need to prepare for your pet’s comfort this coming summer.

In this article, we’ll first talk about the symptoms of feline heat stroke so you will be able to tell right away if your cat is about to overheat. We’ll then give you some tips on how to prevent feline heat stroke. Common treatments for heat stroke that a veterinarian may employ are also discussed so you’ll know what to expect in case you need to take your cat to the vet. Lastly, we’ll give you some great tips for keeping your cat safe and comfy this summer.

Signs and Symptoms of Feline Heat Stroke

cat refraining from any physical activities

The normal body temperature range for cats is around 100.5°F to 102.5°F. For humans, the normal temperature is 98.6°F (37°C), which means that cats are able to tolerate higher temperature ranges than humans do since their normal body temperature is higher than ours, in the first place.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you should be complacent, thinking your pet can handle the heat anyway. Cats do overheat and here’s how you can tell.

  • Restlessness. Your cat may appear restless in her search for a cooler spot. If you notice your cat spreading her body on the floor and then moving again to a seemingly cooler spot, that’s a sure sign your pet is already feeling the heat.

  • Excessive panting. When your feline pet is feeling extremely hot, she will pant heavily as if she were a dog. This is one of your pet’s ways to regulate her body temperature.

  • Sweating from paw pads. Like humans, cats feel the heat, too. But unlike us who sweat from almost every part of our bodies, cats only sweat from their paw pads and noses. Anytime you see your pet sweating from her paws, that’s a sure sign that she’s feeling extremely hot. Your pet is doing her best to reduce her body heat by sweating.

  • Excessive grooming. When your cat is grooming herself excessively in the heat of summer, that’s your signal to help your pet out by moving your pet somewhere cooler. When it’s extremely hot, cats groom themselves not to keep their coat clean but rather to cool down. They lick their coats, and when saliva evaporates from their coats, the cooling effect helps your cat cool down.

  • Lethargy. When cats are feeling uncomfortable because their body temperature is rising, they will instinctively refrain from any physical activities. Your cat will do her best to be inactive to avoid her temperature from rising further. Your pet may also seem lethargic.

  • Vomiting. This is considered as a symptom of acute heat stroke. When your cat is already vomiting because of the heat, it means that your pet’s body can no longer handle the heat.

  • Diarrhea. This is another sign that your cat is suffering from severe heat stroke. When your cat is already vomiting and experiencing diarrhea, it’s no longer enough just to give your pet cool fresh water.

  • Staggering. As your cat’s body temperature rises, she may start feeling heat exhaustion and may seem lethargic. You may also notice that your cat is staggering or walking with wobbly gait. This is one of the more serious symptoms of heat stroke in cats as it indicates a neurologic effect.

  • Collapse. When your pet collapses because of the heat, it’s a sign of severe heat stroke. Your pet may not just be unconscious; she may already be comatose. Taking her to your pet to the vet right away is the best course of action.

  • Other symptoms. The symptoms of heat stroke will vary depending on your cat’s condition. Other symptoms to watch out for include fever, bright red tongue, and drooling. The symptoms of severe heat stroke include seizures, muscle tremors, and shock.

Ways to Prevent Heat Stroke

There are many things you can do as a cat parent to prevent your cat from being a victim of heat stroke this summer. Although your pet has great ways to regulate her own body heat, giving her a helping hand can go a long way in keeping your pet cool and healthy.

#1: Fresh Water

fresh water for an overheated cat

Your pet can gain a lot of benefits just from drinking a bowl of fresh water. To encourage your pet to hydrate herself, replace the water several times a day.

You can also use multiple bowls and place them near the spots where your cat frequently stays. If your pet goes outside of the house, make sure to place a fresh bowl of water in the shade, too.

See Also: DIY Cat Water Fountain

#2: Ice

If freshwater doesn’t do the trick, try putting cubes of ice into your pet’s water bowl. This will greatly help in cooling your pet down and prevent dehydration.

If you’re going to be away the whole day and won’t be leaving the AC on, add several pieces of ice cubes. Make sure you leave several water bowls for your pet.

#3: Cool Spot

Your pet will look for a cool spot on her own, but sometimes even that will still be too hot. What you can do to help make your pet’s favorite spot truly cool is to freeze a bottle of water, wrap it with a towel or a piece of cloth, and tuck it into your pet’s bedding.

If your pet likes going out to the garden, just make sure there’s a shaded area where your pet can take cover from the sun.

#4: Air Circulation

cat near the opened window

Even if you’ve got the AC on, it’s always a good idea to keep the air circulating throughout your home. So, you may want to make use of a box fan to keep the air moving.

If you are trying to save on your power bill, you may want to open the windows to let the breeze in. You can also set a bottle of frozen water in front of your box fan; this will feel like having the AC on.

If your pet likes to snooze through the heat, make sure your pet is sleeping in a well-ventilated room.

#5: Grooming

Your pet will groom herself a lot during summer as a way of keeping cool. You can help your pet by brushing her coat frequently. And if you’ve got a longhaired cat, you may want to think about having her coat clipped.

See Also: How to Groom a Cat

What to Do If Your Cat is Suffering from Heat Stroke

Checking cat’s temperature

If, despite your summer preparations, the heat is too much for your feline pet and you see some of the early signs of heat stroke, giving her immediate care and attention can help prevent severe heat stroke.

Here are some tips for you.

  • Place a cool damp cloth on your pet’s belly. This will help lower your pet’s body temperature.

  • Move your pet to a cool place inside the house and give her a fresh supply of cold water.

  • Avoid forcing your pet to drink water as your pet might choke. If your pet isn’t drinking, try giving her some ice cubes to lick and play with.

  • Set up a fan near your pet’s sleeping area or adjust your AC’s thermostat.

  • Check your cat’s temperature. If it’s above 102.5°F, do your best to help your pet cool down. Monitor your pet’s temperature every five minutes. Once it reaches 105°F, heat stroke may already start setting in so take your pet to the vet right away.

  • You can use ice packs and apply them in between your pet’s legs. You can also apply the ice pack on your cat’s head.

  • You can also use a damp, cool cloth to wipe your pet’s coat. Make sure the cloth doesn’t feel too cold.

  • Soak your cat with cool water. Make sure the water is not freezing cold as it may cause hypothermia.

  • Pre-cool your cat then take your pet to the vet. Even if your cat’s body temperature has already gone down, it’s best to have the vet check for any possible damages to the internal organs.

There are cases when you should not be attempting to give your cat first aid for heat stroke. Rather, you should take your pet to the vet immediately.

When you see your cat vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, bleeding, or having seizures, get your cat checked right away. If you don’t have a thermometer to check your pet’s temperature with, or if your cat’s temperature is already above 105°F, it’s best to have your cat immediately treated for heat stroke.

Feline Heat Stroke Vet Treatments

vet treatment

One of the first things your vet will do is to check your pet’s temperature. If your cat’s body temperature is already in the normal range, your vet will stop the temperature from further decreasing. If your pet’s temperature continues to decrease, it could lead to hypothermia which will cause another problem.

Here are some treatments your vet may administer to your cat.

  • Fluids. Your vet may administer cool fluids directly into your cat’s body to help lower your pet’s body temperature if it’s not within the safe range yet. An enema using cool water may also be administered to your pet. Intravenous fluids can also help treat dehydration.

  • Oxygen. In cases where the cat is having difficulties breathing due to the severity of the heat stroke, your vet may administer oxygen therapy.

  • Cortisone. There are instances when heat stroke causes swelling in your pet’s throat. This can lead to other health problems, or your cat may have difficulty breathing or swallowing due to the swelling. If this is the case, your vet may give your cat a cortisone injection to treat the swelling.

  • Monitoring. Your vet will regularly monitor your cat’s body temperature to ensure that it won’t rise again. If the cat is exposed to high temperatures for a long time, it can lead to internal organ damage. Thus, your vet will also need to monitor your pet for any organ damage and intravascular coagulation.

Tips to Keep Your Cat Comfy This Summer

cat lying in shadow

It’s nice to have some summer fun, but it’s not as enjoyable if your cat is sick. Here are some tips for you to help keep your cat cool and comfy this summer.

#1: Sunscreen

White and pale-colored cats are vulnerable to sunburn—not to mention hairless cats. Yes, cats get sunburned, too. So it’s always a good idea to have a pet sunscreen handy.

If your pet is catching too much sun, make sure you apply sunscreen to your pet’s skin, especially on the ears, to make sure that your cat doesn’t get sunburned.

#2: Water and Shade

Cats that have experienced heat stroke once are likely to fall victim to heat stroke again. Make sure that you have plenty of fresh water supply for your cat all over the house. Setting up a shaded, cool area for your pet is also a good idea.

See Also: How Much Water Should Cats Drink

#3: Don’t Walk Your Pet in Hot Weather

Although exercise is a good thing for you and your pet, try to avoid doing so when the weather’s too hot. If you and your pet really need some fresh air, walk your pet at night instead.

#4: Check Your Car

Cats love to sneak into all kinds of unimaginable places but the interior of a car left baking in the sun is one of the most dangerous places for your cat to get into. Cars heat up in just a short time, so pets left inside a locked car are in danger of dying from heat stroke.

Wrap Up

cat lying on the floor

Summertime should be a fun time for you and your pet. As long as you take care of your summer preparations, you can ensure that your pet won’t suffer from heat stroke.

If you have more ideas for keeping cats cool during summer, do share them with us. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions. You may also want to check out our other article: how cold is too cold for cats.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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